Thursday, September 10, 2015

To Defend or To Obey? by Mike DeCamp

A friend recently told me that I needed to “stand up and defend God.”  His words struck a chord with me and I’ve given them a good deal of thought.  As I watch the TV news and follow my Facebook news feed, I see lots of other Christians who seem to feel compelled to do that.  They are taking their “stand for God.”  They are marching.  They are protesting.  They are shouting at people.  They are writing biting articles and calling their senators.

I do respect their feelings and their convictions and understand their motives.  I appreciate their concern, and share their concerns over the moral state of our world.  I really do.

So, should I too stand up and defend God?

I guess my humble answer is that I think God is plenty capable of defending Himself.  He’s an incredibly powerful being that is much stronger, wiser, more patient, and more dangerous than I will ever be.

I don’t need to defend Him.  I need to obey Him.

God did tell us to march:
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:41

God did tell us to protest:
Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

God did tell us to shout:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Psalm 100:1-2

God did tell us to write:
Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 7:2-3

No, I don’t think God ever commanded us to stand up and defend Him.  We must not deny him, but defending him is not something he expects.  It is my feeling that He can take care of Himself pretty well.  Rather, I think He wants us (each one of us who claim him as Lord) to OBEY Him.  And personally, I plan to start with the following commands and build on from there:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus – Matthew 22:37-39  (And don’t forget that parable about who your neighbor is.)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:44-45

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Paul – Romans 12:17-20

That's enough to keep me busy for quite a while.

And, lastly, Jesus did tell us how to respond to persecution…
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Jesus – Matthew 5:10-12

That said, I'd like to add a bit of perspective.  We are a long way from serious persecution.

Consider this picture of Coptic Christians in Libya who refused to deny Christ:

We have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our blood.

“To obey is better than sacrifice.”  I Samuel 15:22

I don’t want to become so caught up in being right—so intent on maintaining my form of faith—so focused on my rights—so obsessed with trying to enforce moral standards—that I forget my real reason for being here.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  Paul – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

I think if we focused on doing what God actually asked us to do, then just like the early church, we will truly change our world.

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